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“FAK !!” Strawberry-Banana Morgan

Friday Afternoon Kocktail time!  Made up a slushy Strawberry-Banana Morgan cocktail, was really really good!  

Strawberry-Banana Morgan

–  3 oz Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum

–  3 oz Banana Liqueuer

–  a whole container of Fresh Strawberries (reserve a few whole ones with their green tops for deco), washed and cut up (put them in the freezer for an hour or two)

–  Lots of Ice (2-3 cups)

In a blender, add the very cold strawberries and blend until pureed (if you want, I pressed them through a sieve, cuz I don’t appreciate the seeds stuck in my teeth!).  Return the strawberries to the blender if you pressed them and throw in the Spiced Rum, Banana Liqueur and the ice (I like lots of ice, I used more than a cup, probably 2.5 cups).  Blend and blend away.  Once it is thoroughly blended pour into some pretty glasses and decorate with your whole strawberries….P-R-E-T-T-Y!!  and yummers to boot!

Strawberry-Banana Morgan

Strawberry-Banana Morgan

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FAK !! ChaCha Cherry Sangria

“Friday Afternoon Kocktails” time…  Made a delicious refreshing Sour Cherry Sangria.  Yum yum, this hit the spot Friday afternoon after work, a tall glass loaded with ice, sitting by the pool, chilling with my Sangria, on a hot sunny day, I couldn’t ask for more.  Cheers!

Sour Cherry Sangria

– 1 Bottle of Zinfandel (750ml)

– 3 Cups of FRESH squeezed Orange Juice (I used about 4 Really Big oranges).

– 2 Cups Club Soda or 7-Up  (I like the fizzy and I used 7-Up)

– 1/4 Cup Triple Sec

– 1 Jar Sour Pitted Cherries, juice drained  (NOT Maraschino)

– 1/2 Cup of the Sour Cherry Juice (from the jar)

– Several Slices of Oranges  (keep a few to decorate your glasses)

– Several Slices of Lemons

– Lots of Ice (for the glasses not the pitcher)

In a glass pitcher add the Zinfandel, the fresh squeezed Orange Juice, Club Soda or 7-Up, Triple Sec, Sour Cherries, Sour Cherry Juice, Orange and Lemon slices.  Stir well and refrigerate until very cold.  In a tall glass, fill with ice, pour in Sangria, decorate the rim with a few orange slices…Enjoy!  Simply refreshing !!

Cherry Sangria

Cherry Sangria

“FAK!” Pina Coladas

“FAK !”   I hope to have a recipe every Friday for our “Friday Afternoon Kocktails”.  It is nice to just sit and relax and have a cocktail (you can make it virgin, they still taste amazing even if you don’t add the alcohol) and cocktails look soooo pretty too!  Weather has been rather hot here to say the least,  the humidity just makes it more unbearable.  At least I have some comfort in the enjoyment of my pool and a nice cold  refreshment makes it so much more enjoyable.  My recipe for my cold frothy Pina Coladas.  You can hold the alcohol or not, your choice.  I opted for the booze (Oooops!).

PINA COLADA

–  2  Cups Fresh Pineapple (Blended and pureed and put into ice cube trays, Freeze.  Do this a day ahead)

–  3 oz Rum  (I used 1 oz Bacardi White Rum and 2 oz Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum)

–  1/2 Cup Coconut Cream

–  1 Cup Pineapple Juice

–  1 Cup Crushed Ice

–  Fresh Slices of Pineapple and Maraschino Cherries (on the stem if you can find them) for Decoration and eating enjoyment  🙂

Put all the ingredients into a blender and Blend, Blend, Blend…  Serve immediately in a tall glass and decorate with Pineapple slice (I forgot to keep myself a few slices of fresh pineapple, o0yyy!  But I did add the cherries heehee).  A cute little paper parasol was missing, oh well next time.

Cold Frothy Pina Colada Drink

Cold Frothy Pina Colada Drink

Easy Spinach Stuffed Manicotti

One dish meals,  I think they are my favorite.  So much less clean up after dinner and more of relaxing time.  Tonight I prepared spinach stuffed manicotti.   You can prepare a few things ahead of time for this recipe, like making a fresh spaghetti sauce, chop up the onion, wash and chop up the spinach and prepare your pan to receive the shells after boiling.  I had my homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer (I do a lot of cooking and prep and freeze to have homemade meals rather than make a fast food pit stop), so I simply took it out of the freezer the night before to thaw in the refrigerator.  So lets get to it…

Easy Spinach Stuffed Manicotti               Makes about 20 stuffed shells.

–   1 small onion, chopped

–  2 cloves garlic

–  1 T. Olive Oil

–  1 package Manicotti shells (I had 20 shells)

–  9×13 inch baking dish, lightly oiled  (I used a glass lasagna dish)

–  Prepare a cookie sheet lined with foil and oiled lightly with olive oil.  (This prevents your shells from sticking to the pan while they cool).

In a small pan on medium heat, add olive oil.  Add the onions and garlic and sautée for a few minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a large pot, fill with water adding a drop of olive oil to the water and bring to a boil.  Add the manicotti shells and cook for approximately 6-8 minutes.  They should be somewhat firm, do not overcook or they will break when you are filling the shells.  When they are done, remove the shells to your prepared cookie sheet, in a single layer, do not put them on top of one another, they will stick together.  Set aside to cool.  Begin your Ricotta mixture.

Ricotta Mixture:

–  1 tub of Ricotta (625 grams or  2 1/2 cups)

–  1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese  (grated fresh or the container kind)

–  4 to 6 cups Spinach, chopped

–  1 large pastry bag fitted with just a coupler or a freezer bag with the corner cut off about  1″  wide.

–  Prepared homemade spaghetti sauce or you can use a store bought variety  (I used about 3 – 4 cups)

–  1/4 cup heavy cream 35%

–  1 cup shredded Mozzerella Cheese

In a large bowl, add the reserved onions and garlic, Ricotta, Parmesan Cheese and the Spinach and mix well until fully combined.  Set aside.   Add your spaghetti sauce to a pan and heat.  When the sauce is hot, add the heavy cream and stir until combined.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spoon about 1-2 cups of your sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, spreading it to all the sides, make sure it is a thick enough layer.  Take your pastry bag fitted with the coupler and fill the bag with the Ricotta mixture.  Begin to fill your Manicotti shells, careful not to break any by overstuffing, fill one side halfway and then turn your shell and fill the other end.  Place your shell in the baking dish on top of the sauce and repeat these steps until all your shells are filled and in the baking dish.  They should be in one layer side by side not on top of one another.  Ladle some more sauce on top of the shells, be generous.  Top with the shredded Mozzerella Cheese.  Put in the preheated oven, uncovered, and bake for about 30 minutes.  When you remove your Manicotti from the oven, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with crusty bread and a wonderful salad.  Delish!

Easy Spinach Stuffed Manicotti.

Easy Spinach Stuffed Manicotti.

Forgot to take a picture when they were baked….Oooops!

 

 

 

Shamrock Shake

Living in Quebec, I had a hard time finding these Milkshakes, after receiving several requests to “pick me one up on your way home please”.  Unfortunately, the McD’s around here don’t know what a Shamrock Shake is….Oooops!  So the next alternative was to make one myself.  I have never had a Shamrock Shake so I can’t compare.   I enjoyed this frothy cold minty delight.  

SHAMROCK SHAKE

–   2 Cups Whole Milk 

–   1/4 Cup 35% Cream

–   6-8 Large Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream (I used 8, I like it thick!)

–   1 teaspoon Pure Peppermint Extract

–   Several drops of green food coloring

–   ColdWhipped topping

–   Shaved chocolate for topping

–   Maraschino Cherries  (one with stems would have been even cuter)

You know what to do…Throw it all into a blender and process until smooth.  Top with some whipped topping, shaved chocolate and a cherry.  Voila!  You’re homemade Shamrock Shake.  Who needs McDonald’s anyways.  LOL!

shamrock 1

 

 

 

The Ultimate French Toast

French Toast.  One of my favorite breakfast items.  Although breakfast is not my favorite meal of the day, I do love French Toast for Brunch.  Fills me up all the way to dinner time.  Here is my recipe for the ultimate of French Toasts!  

ULTIMATE FRENCH TOAST

–  Thick sliced bread or Leftover French Bread, sliced (I had no french bread, I think leftover crusty bread is best)

–  2 Eggs

–  1/2 Cup Whole Milk (you can use any milk)

–  2 T. Plain Yogurt

–  1/4 t. ground Cinnamon

–  1/4 t. ground Nutmeg

–  Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar for sprinkling

–  Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional, I think it looks pretty)

–  The best 100% pure Maple Syrup

Heat a pan on medium.  In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, yogurt and spices.  Whisk well until fully combined.  Add a pat of butter or margarine and swirl around in pan until melted.  Dip your slice of bread into the egg mixture and get it all covered with the liquid.  Put bread in pan and sprinkle with a little of the muscovado sugar.  Cook both sides until you hear a hollow sound when the bread is tapped lightly.  You only need a sprinkling of the muscovado sugar on one side.  Transfer to a plate and add some fresh fruit slices or berries.  Pour a little maple syrup and dust with confectioners sugar.  Bonne  appetito!

Ultimate French Toast. Perfect for a brunch!

Ultimate French Toast. Perfect for a brunch!

Magic Soup Broth

The cold just does not want to go away… I don’t mind it so much, I do many winter activities, so on those humdrum days, being outdoors is what I love, even in -26 temperatures, Brrr!   When I am indoors, cooking and baking keeps me busy during the long winter months.  One of my favorite things is SOUP!  I love soup, any soup.  I especially love coming home after a long day of snowshoeing or skiing and having a hot bowl of delicious soup.  I have a basic broth that I use for all my soup bases.  When I am feeling like chicken, I add a roasting chicken to the pot, feeling beefy?  I take out my cross rib roast bones and beef shank bones.  I also love a vegetarian soup, so no bones, just a whole lot of vegetables.  I never throw away my chicken carcasses or beef bones, they make the most delicious soup broth.  I also have on hand potato water (you know that potato water you used to boil your potatoes?  Don’t throw it down the drain, save it and put it in freezable containers, it keeps for a good 3 months.  Even that vegetable water you use to cook your veggies, keep it!).  Here is my basic MAGIC broth recipe.

Turkey MeatbalL Soup using basic chicken broth.

Turkey MeatbalL Soup using basic chicken broth.

Magic Broth

In a very large stock pot, fill the pot halfway with filtered water.  Throw in the following;

– About 4 large washed and rinsed carrots cut up in chunks

– About 5 celery stalks washed and rinsed with the leaves on, cut in chunks

– about 3 small onions cut up in chunks

– Add 1 Cup Potato Water (reserved from an earlier cooking)

– Add 1 cup of vegetable water (reserved from an earlier cooking, can be any mix of vegetable water).

– Add about 3 large Bay Leafs (fresh is best, but dried is fine to use as well).

This is the part where you decide what kind of soup you are making, Chicken? Beef? Vegetarian?

Add the following ingredients for which you prefer:

POULTRY:

– Whole Roasting Chicken or frozen chicken bones, whole roasting chicken is nice, because you can cut up the cooked chicken and add to your soup.

– Assorted Fresh Herbs.  For chicken I like Rosemary, Thyme, Basil or Oregano, choose what you like.  Fresh is best, but you can go ahead and use dried if that is what you have on hand.

Now cook this up on medium heat for at least 2 hours or until the chicken is cooked through.  Let cool.  Carefully strain the broth into another large pot.  Keep the chicken, remove skin and cut up into pieces to use in the soup. Reserve the meat.  Discard the vegetables.  Put the broth back into the stock pot and cover.  Refrigerate overnight.  The next day, scoop any fat that has surfaced to the top, should be very easy to remove, it is a hard film on top of your broth.  Discard.  Return pot to stove and add fresh vegetables cut into bite size pieces.  I add the following:

– 1 to 2 cups sliced carrots

– 1 to 2 cups sliced celery

– 1 to 2 cups turnip, cut into bite size chunks

– I add a few bunches of each Fresh Herb or 1 T. of Dried:  Basil, Oregano, Rosemary.

– 1 T. cracked black pepper

Cook on medium heat until vegetables are cooked, still firm, not overcooked and mushy.  You want them a little on the hard side.  Just before the vegetables are cooked, add:

– Add your reserved poultry pieces.

– 1 Cup Corn Niblets

At this point I ladle my soup into freezable containers and cool completely in refrigerator overnight and put in freezer the next day.  If I am serving the soup, I add some Tortellini, or noodles or rice.  The amount depends on the servings I have.  I only add my noodles or rice etc… when I am actually serving the soup, do not add it to the soup and freeze, the water content in the soup makes it go mushy, same as for potatoes, I only add this when I am actually serving the soup.  *Variations:  I rolled small turkey meatballs and added it to the vegetable cooking time point to make a turkey meatball soup.   Cook until meatballs are cooked through. I also added about 1 cup sliced cabbage.  **When adding vegetables like spinach or broccoli, add at the last minute of cooking as they cook quickly.

Chicken Tortellini Soup using chicken broth base.

Chicken Tortellini Soup using chicken broth base.

BEEF:

I made a Beef Minestrone Soup.  So whatever vegetables or seasonings you want to add is all up to you. For Beef, add the following:

– Beef Shank, Saved Cross Rib Bones, Blade Roast (I throw it all in!).

– Assorted Fresh Herbs or 1 T. Dried:  Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, Marjoram.

– 1 T. cracked black pepper

Now cook this on medium heat.  If you are using previously cooked meat and bones only cook for about an hour.  If you are using fresh uncooked meat, cook until the meat is cooked through and still tender.  Do not overcook it!  

Follow the same procedure for straining the broth as the poultry.  Cool the meat and cut up in bite size pieces, reserve. The next day, add the following:

–  2 Cups Sliced Carrots

–  2 Cups Sliced Celery

– 2 Cups Turnip, cut into bite size chunks

Cook until slightly hard but not mushy.  Add the following:

– Reserved meat pieces

– 1 Cup Corn Niblets

– 1 Cup Red Kidney Beans

Just before serving throw in a big bunch of washed and rinsed Baby Spinach, cooks in 2 minutes.  You want it a bright green.

Beef Minestrone Soup using beef broth base.

Beef Minestrone Soup using beef broth base.

VEGETARIAN:

Follow the above recipe but just OMIT any poultry or beef.  Any vegetable can be used to make your basic broth.  I throw everything I can get my hands on.  Squashes, parsnips, sweet potato, and of course good old carrots, celery, turnip.  I always add potatoes 1/2 hour before serving, makes a good staple.  I never add potatoes to my containers to freeze and they always end up mushy, yuck!  Any kind of Herbs can be used, fresh or dried.  Try whatever vegetables, herbs, spices, toppings and sides that suit your fancy.  A hot bowl of homemade soup and crusty bread after a day of winter activities hits the spot! Most importantly, cook, experiment and simply have fun.